Archive for Rated PG-13

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PodCastle 735: The Artists’ Colony

Show Notes

Rated PG-13


The Artists’ Colony

Patrick Freyne

 

Dear ­­­­­­­______,

I think you would love it here. It’s so peaceful and you were always saying, back in the city, that we needed to get away.

So let me describe what I can see from my writing desk. Outside my window I can see a silver lake which is very still. Behind the lake there is a hill that is partly covered with coniferous trees. Above the hill there is a mottled grey sky. The trees on the hill look like they’ve been painted against that sky with vertical dashes of paint and their reflections in the lake look like inverted impressionist renderings of the same scene.

There is no sound. No engines. No construction. No destruction. No children. No birds. (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 734: An Incomplete Account of the Case of the Bird-Talker of Yaros

Show Notes

Rated PG-13


An Incomplete Account of the Case of the Bird-Talker of Yaros

by Eleanna Castroianni

 

 

PANAYOTIS M., interviewed by Eleni Haji, November 1975

When I first saw her, she was covered in wings. Sea birds flocked to her as if she was honey and they were the bees. Watching from the men’s prison, we could always tell which was her cell window by the cluster of flapping, squawking gulls.

The guards were furious. They would thrash around to drive the birds away or even keep her locked in isolation in windowless rooms. But I know she still spoke to them, all of them. A chirrup here, a cry there. You can’t stop them. Birds carry words, my father used to say. Their wings are speech.

(Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 733: Flash Fiction Extravaganza – Rough Patches

Show Notes

“Water We Made to Breathe” Rated PG-13

“Secret Keepers” Rated PG

“A Partial Record of Enchanted Cheeses I’ve Fed My Wife” Rated PG


Water We Made to Breathe

By Marisca Pichette

When we were fourteen we went looking for the ocean at the heart of the woods. I remember the smell: earth and algae and damp, air thick as water. Our sweat mixing with the summer sun, our clothes in a pile on the shore. Max jumped in, his shoulders swallowed by green waves.

I could never tell Max’s parents why I came back alone. (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 731: The Travel Guide to the Dimension of Lost Things

Show Notes

Rated PG-13


The Travel Guide to the Dimension of Lost Things

By Effie Seiberg

 

Have you ever felt so tired that you just don’t feel anymore? Where you wake up, burrowed under the covers with a shaft of light somehow piercing through them and right into your brain, and realize that here comes one more day you need to endure, to wait through, until you can blessedly sleep again and stop experiencing this whole existence thing?

This is where I am. I’m deeply considering whether it’s worth just snaking my hand out of my bed-burrito to grab my phone, bring it in, and then just play solitaire until I can fall asleep again instead of even considering what I need to get done today . . . until I realize that the light piercing through is bright green. (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 730: The Augur and the Girl Left At His Door

Show Notes

Rated PG-13


The Augur and the Girl Left at His Door

by Greta Hayer

The augur looked at the bridegroom’s back and sighed. He bent close to the bridegroom’s skin, examined every bump and line in his flesh. Most apparent were the red lines, claw marks from fingernails. A less experienced fortune teller would have seen those marks and spoken of the satisfaction of the young man’s new bride, perhaps suggested the imminent birth of a child, but the augur had done this for many years. He knew how to read the skin of a person, living or dead. He knew that there would be no happiness for the couple. There would be a child — there was already a child quickening in the belly of the bride; that much was obvious by the angles of the cuts, the swell of the muscles by the shoulder blades — but that child would be the end of them. It was as clear as dark moles on pale skin; as obvious as the ridge of a spinal column.

The augur told the bridegroom to put his clothes back on. He did not tell the bridegroom about the darkness in his future. The augur had seen other soothsayers punished when they told people things they did not want to hear when he worked for the emperor many years ago. But the augur did not lie. He never lied. And to not tell the whole truth — that was no lie. (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 729: Bride, Knife, Flaming Horse

Show Notes

Rated PG-13


Bride, Knife, Flaming Horse

by M. L. Krishnan

 

To Kalavati, it was well known that if one reached marriageable age, parents and aunties and cousins thrice-removed would clump themselves into anthills of worry. Missiles of relationship managers and matrimonial websites would then be launched to nab a match. It would be a process of adjustments — of settling and tucking and hiding. Of second-rate suitors with second-rate mustaches and identical beige shirts. That was what Kala had always believed, had always known to be proper and true as an oft-repeated lie.

Until she met the man that was a ghoul, but also a knife. Until she met the woman that was a deity, but also a mare.

(Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 723: Just One Last Mango

Show Notes

Rated PG-13


Just One Last Mango

by Chaitanya Murali

“Do you want one?” Meghna asked between bites. She was sitting in the upper branches of Balu maama’s mango tree, with half a dozen golden fruits bundled in her podavai and another one in her mouth.

I shook my head, keeping an eye out for maama, and an ear out for his dogs. If he caught us, then that was another day of helping him. Another day of hearing him lecture us about how those mangoes were for selling, not eating. Another day of unpaid labour. Another loss for us. The mangoes I could eat once we were home. For now, I just wanted Meghna to get down so we could go. But my sister, older by a year and therefore infinitely more wise, swayed on the branch, kicking her legs and laughing — giddy from the flavour.

Stolen mangoes always did taste sweeter.

“He’s going to come out soon!” My words were a hissed whisper.

“You better start running, then,” Meghna said, without the slightest urgency to accompany it. If anything, she seemed about ready to fall asleep on the branch, splaying herself across it like a basking cat.

“Meghna! What if someone sees you?”

“Their problem, no? It’s fine, Karthik. No one comes here at this time, anyway. And besides, he never eats them.”

I could hear the dogs stirring now and my bones screamed in the panicked remembrance of a thousand crushing dog hugs. Balu maama’s dogs weren’t the biting kind. They were the aggressively friendly kind, which was somehow worse. They threw themselves at us with abandon, looking only to knock us down and pin us long enough to lick our faces raw.

“They’re coming, toss the mangoes to me!” I said, opening thatha’s veshti that I’d snuck into his room to take while he snored on his wicker cot, a Dhina Thandhi magazine spilled open over his chest. Four fruits dropped, golden splashes in billowing cotton. Gilded and shining in the morning sun.

These weren’t normal mangoes. (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 722: Said the Princess

Show Notes

Rated PG-13


Said the Princess

by Dani Atkinson

 

Once upon a time in a far-off land, in a tiny room, in a tall tower, at the centre of a vast and impenetrable maze, the princess Adrienna cocked her head and frowned.

“Who said that?” said the princess.

She looked around the tower room, but saw no one.

“This isn’t funny. Who’s there?” said the princess.

She crouched by the bed. Underneath it she found the chamber pot and a nervous brown spider. The princess shuddered. Straightening up quickly and dusting off her rosy skirts, she paced the circumference of the room, searching every inch. There were not many inches to search, as after all it was a prison, and not elaborately furnished or overburdened with good hiding places.

“Where is that coming from? Who are you?” said the princess, stopping by the barred window.

“No, really, who are you? And quit saying ‘said the princess’ after everything I say!” said the prin . . . Oh.

“Yes, ‘Oh’.”

The princess . . . probably wasn’t supposed to hear that. (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 721: A Chestnut, A Persimmon, A Cunning Lie

Show Notes

Rated PG-13


A Chestnut, A Persimmon, A Cunning Lie

By Michelle M. Denham

 

If you are going to battle a tiger, my darling one, you need three things: a chestnut, a persimmon, and a cunning lie.


Haewon’s Omoni brought home the tiger-hearted girl and said, “This is your sister, Hyojin. She has been reborn to us, isn’t that wonderful?”

The tiger-hearted girl had amber eyes that burned, red stripes on her face, and long white teeth that gleamed in the dark. Omoni looked at Haewon like she expected her to do something. (A chestnut. A persimmon. A cunning lie.) So Haewon threw her arms around the tiger-hearted girl and said, “Hyojin-ah! I thought we’d never see each other again. I missed you so much.”

For her efforts, Haewon received a sharp bite into her shoulder. It was like four needles jabbed into her skin all at once. Haewon cried out, but she didn’t let go of the tiger girl.

“Hyojin-ah, how dare you bite your unni? You should show your older sister more respect.” She pulled back to stare at the tiger-hearted girl. She tapped her on the nose, once. “You were always just like this. Even reborn, you’re still the same. Come, I’ll show you our old room.”

Haewon took the tiger by her hand and Hyojin followed behind, suddenly meek.

(Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 718: Memoirs of a Magic Mirror

Show Notes

Rated PG-13


Memoirs of a Magic Mirror

by Julia Knowles

It started when three magicians, two fairies, a couple of wizards, a witch, and one very drunken sage decided it was a good idea to give consciousness to a mirror that had to answer any question truthfully. Personally, I blame the alcohol.

The sage ended up keeping me. Maybe the others had worked out that something that can only speak the truth and is compelled to answer every question it hears might not be the best house guest. All things considered, the sage coped with my presence admirably. Perhaps he liked having someone who could also ramble about the metaphysical considerations inherent in being an insignificant speck in a vast and uncaring world from time to time.

It wasn’t so bad. Even if it was only one person, with the sage I always had company. After he died I was forgotten in storage for a few decades before one of his descendants sold me off. From there I was passed between the wealthy and privileged — who had varying levels of interest in the knowledge I offered — for generations.

But I suppose the long lineage of my possession isn’t terribly relevant to this tale. Suffice to say that eventually an ageing duke saw fit to pass me on to his great-niece as a wedding present. Which, with the benefit of hindsight, was a stellar example of the old saying that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

(Continue Reading…)